The online retail business in the sporting goods sector has been growing stronger and stronger in recent years, and it has been accelerating during and after the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. New business models and start-ups have disrupted classic sales channels. Players with strong roots in technology, data and innovation have been taking an increasing share of the market, profiting from deep consumer insights and trends. But brand awareness, people, careers and leadership are still playing a strong role in the success of any venture, as many of the examined companies stress on their B2B websites.

We have already reported extensively on the growing share of e-commerce in the sports brands’ own direct-to-consumer operations, led by Nike, which has now started to work with fewer, selected retail partners. The major integrated multi-brand sports retailers and the international buying groups operating in Europe have been going in the same direction, developing the online channel more than the physical store channel.

To find out which have become the 10 key e-commerce sports shops in Europe is not an easy task. As you can’t compare the revenues of retailers that combine their offline and online sales in their reports with the pure players that sell online-only, our research has concentrated on KPIs other than mere financial analysis. That’s why we have used digital data, calculating the total number of visitors to their European websites between June and August, after the end of the retail lockdowns, as well as the number of their Facebook and Instagram followers, to compile our statistics and infographics.

 

Aside from Private Sport Shop, which was created in France in 2011 mainly to sell excess stocks from the sports brands at discounted prices, there is no single retail company without brick-and-mortar stores among our chart’s top 10 sports banners for e-commerce in Europe. This corroborates the assumption that such specialty retailers cannot succeed without a multi-channel strategy. In fact, all of the others started with physical stores. Pure sports e-tailers like Bergzeit and Tennis Point have less traffic because they are more specialized.

On the other hand, more generalist pure players like Amazon and Zalando are grabbing a large share of the sporting goods market in the U.K. and Germany, respectively. As reported elsewhere, another one, Asos, is now planning to be more active in the sporting goods market.

While it has only recently started to invest heavily in e-commerce, Decathlon comes clearly at the top of our chart in terms of site visits, probably because it has a strong presence all over Europe. It is also the retailer with the highest website traffic in Germany, where it is a recent arrival. It is ahead of longer-established retailers like SportScheck and Globetrotter, which started off with mail order catalogs to complement their physical stores. These three companies are followed in Germany by Intersport, Runnerspoint (which is being phased out), Sport SchusterKarstadt Sports and Sport 2000.

Internationalization has been a major driver of the digitalization effort. In the ranking across Europe, Decathlon is followed at a distance by the two leading British sports retailers, JD Sports and Sports Direct, which have been expanding in many other countries across the Continent. The big Russian-based Sportmaster Group, which has been expanding from Eastern to Western Europe, comes next, followed by Intersport, Foot Locker, XXL, Private Sport Shop, SportScheck and Blue Tomato.

As for the retailers’ followers on Facebook, Decathlon comes out on top with 7.60 million people, but Blue Tomato comes next with 3.75 million, followed by JD, Foot Locker, Intersport and Sports Direct with 3.3 million, 3.0 million and 2.59 million, respectively. Private Sports Shop comes in sixth position with 1,296,347 followers. All the others have less than one million followers.

JD is most popular on Instagram, with 2.21 million followers. After JD, we see Foot Locker in second position with 2.10 million and Sportmaster with 1.23 million. Decathlon comes in only fourth position, with 1.08 million followers. Sports Direct and Blue Tomato come next, each of them with about half a million followers.

 

Decathlon

Decathlonhas been designing, manufacturing and offering high-performance sports gear since 1976. With over 2,000 stores across 56 countries and several online stores on five continents, it is one of the world’s largest sporting goods retailers. The company is family-owned and offers several low-priced in-house brands. Each of these 20 Decathlon brands is dedicated to a specific sport or practice.

  • Country of origin: FRA
  • Key brands: BTwin, Quechua, Kalenji, Artengo, Caperlan, Fouganza
  • Main sport segments: fitness, running, cycling, outdoor, hiking, water sports, team sports 
  • Main URL: www.decathlon.com 
  • B2B website: www.decathlon-united.com 
  • Available languages: BUL, CRO, CZE, ENG, ESP, FRA, GER, HUN, ITA, NED, POL, POR, ROM, RUS, SLO, SVK, SWE, UKR
  • Country code top-level domains in Europe: .at, .bg, .co.uk, .cz, .de, .es, .fr, .hu, .ie, .it, .nl, .pl, .pt, .ro, .ru, .se, .si, .sk, .ua
  • Total website visitors, June-Aug. 2020*: 225,607,000
  • Facebook followers**: 7,599,194
  • Most popular country-specific Facebook page**: https://es-es.facebook.com/decathlonespana (2,743,178 followers)
  • Instagram followers***: 1,082,861
  • Most popular country-specific Instagram page***: https://www.instagram.com/decathlones (308,000 followers)

 

JD Sports

Founded in 1981, JD is a sports fashion, multichannel retailer of branded sports and casual wear, combining globally recognized brands with strong own-brand labels. Apart from online stores worldwide, JD currently operates over 770 brick-and-mortar stores in 19 territories across the globe.

  • Country of origin: GBR
  • Key brands: Nike, Adidas, Puma, The North Face (VF Corp.), Pink Soda, Supply & Demand
  • Main sport segments: sneakers, sports fashion, football
  • Main URL: www.jdsports.co.uk 
  • B2B website: www.jdplc.com  
  • Available languages: ENG, ESP, FRA, GER, NED, ITA, POR, SWE
  • Country code top-level domains in Europe: .at, .be, .co.uk, .de, .dk, .es, .fi, .fr,, .ie, .it, .nl, .pt, .se
  • Total website visitors, June-Aug. 2020*: 68,950,055
  • Facebook followers**: 3,261,046
  • Most popular country-specific Facebook page**: https://www.facebook.com/jdofficial (3,254,773 followers)
  • Instagram followers***: 2,213,400
  • Most popular country-specific Instagram page***: www.instagram.com/jdofficial  (1,500,000 followers)

 

Sports Direct

Founded in 1982, Sports Direct International plc claims to be the U.K.’s largest sporting goods retailer by revenue, and offers a diversified portfolio of sports, fitness, fashion and lifestyle brands. The group provides a full multi-channel retail approach in the U.K. and increasingly across Continental Europe and elsewhere.  

  • Country of origin: GBR
  • Key brands: Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, Karrimor, USA Pro, Puma, Skechers, New Balance, Asics, Everlast
  • Main sport segments: football, running, fitness & training, golf
  • Main URL: www.sportsdirect.com 
  • B2B website: www.sportsdirectplc.com 
  • Available languages:  CZE, ENG, ESP, FRA, GER, HUN, ICE, ITA, POL, POR, SLO, SVK, SWE 
  • Country code top-level domains in Europe: .com
  • Total website visitors, June-Aug. 2020*: 49,020,000
  • Facebook followers**:  2,589,085
  • Most popular country-specific Facebook page**: https://www.facebook.com/SportsDirect (2,589,085  followers)
  • Instagram followers***: 538,000
  • Most popular country-specific Instagram page***: www.instagram.com/sportsdirectfootball (357,000 followers)

 

Intersport

Founded in 1968, Intersport is one of the world’s leading sporting goods retailers, with retail sales of EUR 11.9 billion in 2019 and more than 5,500 affiliated stores in 43 countries. Each of these stores is independently owned and run. Apart from the main websites, intersport.com and co., many of these individual stores run their own websites, which we unfortunately couldn’t take into account.

  • Country of origin: SUI
  • Key brands: Adidas, Nike, CMP, Salomon, Puma, Asics, Vaude, K2, Converse, Schöffel, On, McKinley, Firefly, Pro Touch
  • Main sport segments:  football, outdoor, hiking, fitness, running, cycling, water sports, tennis 
  • Main URL: www.intersport.com 
  • B2B website: www.intersport.com
  • Available languages: BIH, BUL, CRO, CZE, DEN, ENG, ESP, FIN, FRA, GER, GRE, HUN, ITA, MNE, NED, NOR, POL, ROM, SLO, SRB, SVK, SWE, UKR
  • Country code top-level domains in Europe: .at, .ba, .be, .bg, .ch, .co.uk, .com, .com.cy, .cz, .de, .dk, .es, .fi, .fr, .gr, .hr, .hu, .it, .me, .nl, .no, .pl, .ro, .rs, .se, .si, .sk, .ua
  • Total website visitors, June-Aug. 2020*: 37,970,627
  • Facebook followers**: 2,660,886
  • Most popular country-specific Facebook page**: https://www.facebook.com/intersportsuomi (333,332 followers)
  • Instagram followers***: 434,680
  • Most popular country-specific Instagram page***: https://www.instagram.com/intersportsuomi (99,400 followers)

 

Foot Locker 

With more than 2,500 stores across the world, including 620 stores in 20 countries on European soil, Foot Locker is one of the leading global athletic footwear and apparel retailers. The company has been offering top brands, especially for sneaker-heads, for more than 30 years.  

  • Country of origin: USA (European headquarters: NED)
  • Key brands: Nike, Adidas, Converse, Reebok, New Balance, Asics, Puma, New Era, Vans
  • Main sport segments: sneakers, running, basketball, tennis, skate
  • Main URL: www.footlocker.eu 
  • B2B website: www.footlocker-inc.com 
  • Available languages: CZE, DEN, ENG, ESP, FRA, GER, GRE, HUN, ITA, NED, NOR, POL, POR, SWE
  • Country code top-level domains in Europe: .at, .be, .co.uk, .cz, .de, .dk, .es, .fr, .gr, .hu, .ie, .it, .lu .nl, .no, .pl, .pt, .se
  • Total website visitors, June-Aug. 2020*: 33,828,861
  • Facebook followers**: 3,052,091
  • Most popular country-specific Facebook page**: https://www.facebook.com/FootLockerEU (3,052,091 followers)
  • Instagram followers***: 2,100,000
  • Most popular country-specific Instagram page***: https://www.instagram.com/footlockereu  (2,100,000 followers)

 

Sportmaster 

Founded in 1992, Sportmaster is an international multi-category, multi-brand retailer of sports and outdoor products with a focus on Eastern Europe. It operates a retail chain of more than 520 stores in over 230 European and Asian cities and offers more than 300 brands for different sports and outdoor activities.

Country of origin: SIN

  • Key brands: Nike, Adidas, Puma, Fila, Columbia, CAT, Colmar, Demix, Kettler, Merrell, Molten, Mountain Hardwear, O’Neill, Protest, Roces, Saucony, Skechers, Speedo, Tecnica, Völkl, Ziener
  • Main sport segments: running, fitness, football, tennis, water sports
  • Main URL: www.sportmaster.ru  
  • B2B website: www.sportmastercorp.com 
  • Available languages: DEN, RUS, BEL, KAZ, UKR
  • Country code top-level domains in Europe: .by, .dk, .kz, .ru, .ua
  • Total website visitors, June-Aug. 2020*:  38.405.739
  • Facebook followers**: 274,327
  • Most popular country-specific Facebook page**: https://www.facebook.com/dinsportmaster (118,717 followers)
  • Instagram followers***: 1,232,252
  • Most popular country-specific Instagram page***: https://www.instagram.com/sportmaster_official (840,000 followers)

 

XXL

XXL was founded in Norway in 2000 and is specialized in products for sports, exercise and outdoor life. As the market leader in Norway, with a market share of around 30 percent as of 2018, XXL is the largest and fastest-growing sports retailer by revenue in Scandinavia, with a strong foothold in Austria too. XXL operates large unit stores as well as established e-commerce platforms.   

  • Country of origin: NOR 
  • Key brands: Mizuno, Camelbak, Adidas, New Balance, Puma, Nike, Under Armour, Asics, Kygo, Casall
  • Main sport segments: cycling, football, outdoor, yoga, water sports, winter sports
  • Main URL: www.xxl.no 
  • B2B website: www.xxlasa.com 
  • Available languages: DEN, FIN, GER, NOR, SWE
  • Country code top-level domains in Europe: .at, .dk, .fi, .no, .se
  • Total website visitors, June-Aug. 2020*: 24,171,665
  • Facebook followers**: 883,632
  • Most popular country-specific Facebook page**: https://www.facebook.com/xxlnorge (346,168 followers)
  • Instagram followers***: 117,143
  • Most popular country-specific Instagram page***: https://www.instagram.com/xxl.no (58,500 followers)

 

Private Sport Shop 

Private Sport Shop was created in 2011 with the aim of making sports gear available to the largest number of people at the lowest cost. It partners with leading sports brands to sell excess stock at discounted prices. The business operates two flash sales formats: Consignment Sales, where the inventory is held by the third-party brand during the flash sale and is delivered directly from its premises to the end customer; and Outright Sales, where PSS acquires the inventory and distributes it to customers directly from its in-house storage facility. 

  • Country of origin: FRA 
  • Key brands: Adidas, Asics, Under Armour, Ortovox, Columbia, Billabong
  • Main sport segments: running, outdoor, fitness, cycling, water sports, ski/snowboard 
  • Main URL: www.privatesportshop.com   
  • B2B website: www.privatesportshop.com   
  • Available languages: ENG, ESP, FRA, GER, ITA, 
  • Country code top-level domains in Europe: .co.uk, .com, .de, .es, .fr, .it
  • Total website visitors, June-Aug. 2020*: 16,539,753
  • Facebook followers**: 1,296,347
  • Most popular country-specific Facebook page**: https://www.facebook.com/PrivateSportShop (1,296,347 followers)
  • Instagram followers***: 93,600
  • Most popular country-specific Instagram page***: https://www.instagram.com/privatesportshop (93,600 followers)

 

SportScheck

Founded in Munich in 1947, SportScheck is a multi-channel company with 16 branches throughout Germany. Its several stores across the country and strong online marketplace make SportScheck one of the leading specialist sports retailers in German-speaking countries.

  • Country of origin: GER
  • Key brands: Nike, Adidas, The North Face, CMP, OCK, Salomon, Vaude, Garmin, Schöffel, Lowa, Meindl, On, Asics
  • Main sport segments: outdoor, fitness, running, football, winter sports  
  • Main URL: www.sportscheck.com 
  • B2B website: www.sportscheck.com/unternehmen/
  • Available languages: GER
  • Country code top-level domains in Europe: .at, .ch, .de
  • Total website visitors, June-Aug. 2020*: 8,833,486
  • Facebook followers**:  320,149
  • Most popular country-specific Facebook page**: https://de-de.facebook.com/SportScheck (320,149 followers)
  • Instagram followers***: 77,300
  • Most popular country-specific Instagram page***: https://www.instagram.com/sportscheck (77,300 followers)

 

Blue Tomato 

Founded in a garage in Austria in 1988, Blue Tomato has strong roots in board sports and has slowly developed from Austria to Germany and to all main European countries. With a strong online marketplace since 1997, it’s one of the world’s biggest omni-channel retailers in this segment today, offering over 450,000 products from over 500 brands.

  • Country of origin: AUT
  • Key brands: Burton, Vans, Volcom, Roxy, Nikita, DC, Billabong, Quiksilver, Adidas, Nike, Teddy Fresh, Rip N Dip, Kazane
  • Main sport segments: skateboarding, surfing, freeskiing, snowboarding
  • Main URL: www.blue-tomato.com 
  • B2B website: https://www.blue-tomato.com/en-GB/info/About+Blue+Tomato-0000010N 
  • Available languages: CZE, DEN, ENG, ESP, FIN, GER, FRA, ITA, NED, NOR, SLO SWE
  • Country code top-level domains in Europe: .com
  • Total website visitors, June-Aug. 2020*: 3,746,000 
  • Facebook followers**: 457,272
  • Most popular country-specific Facebook page**: https://www.facebook.com/Bluetomato (457,272 followers)
  • Instagram followers***: 131,000
  • Most popular country-specific Instagram page***: https://www.instagram.com/bluetomato (131,000 followers)

 

Further online stores we examined but didn’t make it into the Top 10, in alphabetical order: 

11Teamsports, Askari, Bergfreunde, Bergzeit, Bike24, Bike Discount, Campz/Addnature, Cisalfa, Fahrrad.de/Bikester, Globetrotter, Hervis, Keller Sports, Kitbag, Maxisport, Outdoorshop, Outdoorshop123, Planet Sports, Sport 2000, Sport Amore, Sport Shop, Sportspar, Stadium

*Source: similarweb.com

**as of September 10, 2020. Source: facebook.com

***as of September 10, 2020. Source: instagram.com